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Last week I was honoured to travel to Lima, Peru to attend the Demand Solutions Event to accept an award on behalf of everyone at Akvo. We were selected as a winner of the Water and Sanitation Award in the Innovation Category, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and FEMSA Foundation. The award is in recognition of our work in bringing informational and technological innovation to the water and sanitation sector in Latin America through the development of innovative tools such as Akvo FLOW and Akvo Caddisfly. I would like to thank the IDB and FEMSA Foundation for recognising us with the award and to congratulate the other winners – Agua Para La Vida and Mundano.

Above: Demand Solutions 2015 Award winners. Lima, Peru, 18 November 2015. Photo by Ethel Méndez.

Obviously the reason we do this work is not for awards. I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by people who inspire and challenge me everyday, both within Akvo and our partners. As an organisation we aspire to change the way the international development sector functions by leveraging the latest information technology innovations to improve the capture, understanding and sharing of information for bigger impact. While technology is a great conduit to drive this work forward, it is critical not to forget the key ingredient – people.

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Above: Henry Jewell presenting Akvo Caddisfly. Photo by Ethel Méndez.

As a geographer I am fascinated by how people interact with each other and the environment that surrounds them. New technologies are providing new methods and tools for these interactions to occur. Within this ever-changing landscape, the primary constant in this process are the people themselves; technologies need to be used in smart ways to amplify good processes and good ideas. This was a common theme throughout the Demand Solutions event and one that is critical to remember: I saw many great technologies but met even more interesting and innovative people. The nexus between these two can create real change.

Henry Jewell is manager, Akvo USA hub and executive director, Akvo Foundation USA. You can follow him on Twitter @hejewell.

Akvo was recently honoured to receive further recognition as winner of the Dutch Water Innovation Prize, and best video at SIWI World Water Week.